Celtic’s equalising goal stuck in Hearts’ throats after Ellis Simms’ fine early opener. Callum McGregor’s foul on Toby Sibbick deep in the home half went unpunished by referee Don Robertson. Seconds later, Daizen Maeda converted Jota’s cross to restore parity.
Then came assistant referee Dougie Potter’s comments to Gordon in the tunnel at half-time over the hosts’ second goal, which marginally crossed the line before the goalkeeper could push it away. Potter’s decision was to instantly award Kyogo a goal and TV replays proved him correct.
Addressing the first goal initially, Gordon was perplexed: “I cannot understand how it’s not a free-kick, then Celtic catch us on the break and they’re so good at that,” he said. “We are really unfortunate not to get that decision on the edge of the box in [Stephen] Kingsley territory. It’s disappointing on so many levels.”
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On the second, he added: “I think it’s about a millimetre over the line. How the linesman from 40 yards away can 100 per cent know that’s over the line, I’m not entirely sure. We’ll have to give him it as a good call.
“He was winding me up coming out for the second half, saying: ‘Good decision, good decision, eh?’ I was like: ‘Oh right, so it’s like that?’ Fair enough, he backed his call. I thought I’d saved it.”
Further goals by Matt O’Riley and substitute Giorgos Giakoumakis completed a comfortable Celtic win which all but secured the Premiership title. Manager Ange Postecoglou made time to praise Gordon for an outstanding campaign at full-time.
“He congratulated me on a good season and I congratulated him straight back,” said the Scotland internationalist. “He has done a fantastic job. He was just congratulating me on my award and having a good season.”
Hearts play Motherwell and Rangers this week before facing the Ibrox club again in the Scottish Cup final. Rangers meet Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League final in Seville just three days prior to the Hampden showpiece.
Were they to return with a European trophy, it might work in Hearts’ favour. Particularly if they indulge in extensive celebrations. “They would deserve it if they win a European final. Good luck to them,” smiled Gordon.
“To get there is a major achievement in itself. To see them win a European trophy would be amazing for everybody, for the co-efficient, Champions League places, etc.
“So many things could come into it – could it go to extra-time, travel. They are very capable of putting up with that schedule. They’ve done it all season and consistently performed well, especially in Europe. I don’t think it has a great bearing on it.
“I don’t think this week will have any bearing on what happens at Hampden. We will try to win and get back to winning ways after going ten unbeaten before Saturday.”
Celtic (4-3-3): Hart; Ralston, Carter-Vickers, Starfelt, Taylor; Turnbull (Hatate 64), McGregor, O’Riley (Rogic 77); Jota (Forrest 80), Kyogo (Giakoumakis 64), Maeda (Abada 64).
Hearts (4-2-3-1): Gordon; Atkinson, Moore, Kingsley, Cochrane; Sibbick, Haring; Ginnelly (Woodburn 80), Boyce, McKay (Thomas 89); Simms (Mackay-Steven 75).
Referee: Don Robertson.